Difference Between a Scythe and a Sickle

Tools were invented by man to help him facilitate in different tasks. Farmers and peasants make the use of tools in their life on a daily basis.


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Two of the most commonly used are the sickle and the scythe. Since they look very similar many people often are confused between the two.

They are used mostly for the same purpose of reaping and hence adds to the confusion.

Key Takeaways

  1. Scythes have long, curved blades and long handles, while sickles have short, curved blades and short handles.
  2. Scythes are suitable for cutting large grass or crops, whereas sickles are ideal for harvesting small areas or trimming edges.
  3. Scythes require a sweeping motion for cutting, while sickles use a pulling or sawing motion.

Scythe vs Sickle

The main difference between a scythe and a sickle is that a scythe has a long curved blade with a long handle while a sickle has a short handle and a short blade. The cutting width of a scythe is also much greater than that of a sickle.

Scythe vs Sickle

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A scythe is basically a tool that has a long handle held with two hands and a long, sharp, and curved blade and is used in cutting long grass, grains, and crops.

It is an agricultural hand tool that has been replaced by tractor machinery in the recent times. It is still used in some parts of Europe and Asia.

A sickle is another hand tool that has a short handle that is help with one hand a small curved blade and is used in cutting grass and reaping, harvesting crops.

The sickle has seen many versions of it across different cultures but the basic feature is a steel hook attached to a small handle.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonScytheSickle
Blade size and shapeThe blade is longer in size and a little elongated and curved in shape.The blade is smaller in size and hook shaped.
Handle sizeIt has a long handle with two grips.It has a short wooden handle.
Direction of swingIt can only be used in right to left direction.It can be used in both right to left and left to right directions.
Position of userThe user has to be in a standing position to use a scythe.The user has to be in squatting and sitting position to use a sickle.
Cutting forageIt cannot be used cut forage.It can be used to cut forage.

What is a Scythe?

The word “scythe” has been derived from the old English word siðe. It has also been spelt as “sithe” or “sythe”. It is an agricultural hand tool mainly used for mowing grass, grains, and other crops by farmers throughout the world.

The Romans were the one who developed the earliest scythe. It was most popularly used in Europe and North America until the early 20th century.

The different parts of a scythe are the blade, ring, snath, lower grip, and upper grip. The blade of a scythe comes in varying lengths from 12 inches to 50 inches and is usually made of iron.

The ring is a semi-cylindrical piece of metal that holds the blade and the snath together. The snath is the long handle of the scythe.

The upper and lower grip is where the user holds the scythe to mow the grass or crops. It is used in a standing position. In may folklores, the Grim Reaper or “death” has been shown to be carrying around a scythe as his weapon of choice.

It is a symbol that compares death reaping souls of sinners to how a peasant reaps his crops with the scythe.


What is a Sickle?

A sickle, also known as the bragging or reaping hook, is a tool used in reaping crops or cutting the succulent forage to feed the livestock regardless of it being fresh or dried hay.

It has been in use since the pre-neolithic era. Since then, it has seen various versions of it along the years and around the world where there are various designs for the hook.

The short handle forces the user to use it in a sitting position. Its cutting width is limited as the blade and handle is smaller. Hence it is also a slow labour consuming process and has low investment cost.

It is mostly used for reaping cereals and in gardening. It has sometimes been known to be modified to be used as a weapon.

The sickle majorly consists of four parts: the blade, tang, ferrule, and wooden handle. The blade is made of iron or carbon steel and can be either plain or serrated.

The tang is the forged end of the blade that holds the handle and the ferrule is a protective metallic bush to keep the tang in place. Some of the grim reaper folklores have been also known to show a sickle instead of a scythe as its weapon.


Main Differences Between a Scythe and a Sickle

The main difference between the scythe and sickle is the look. The sickle is smaller with a more curved or hook-like blade whereas a scythe is bigger with a curved but elongated blade. Other differences are as follows:

  1. The blade of the scythe is attached at right angles to the handle or snath. The sickle has a semi-circular blade that attaches it to the handle.
  2. A scythe can only be used with two hands. Sickle can be used with one hand.
  3. A scythe is to be used in an upright position whereas a sickle requires the user to be in a sitting or squatting position.
  4. A sickle can be swung in both directions whereas a scythe can be swung only in the right to left direction.
  5. A sickle can be used to cut forage for the livestock; a scythe cannot.
Difference Between a Scythe and a Sickle
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/043087781798240129
  2. https://www.indianjournals.com/ijor.aspx?target=ijor:aet&volume=24&issue=3&article=002

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